tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC December 30, 2020 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
the bells is as much a statement of faith as a show of solidarity with our neighbors and fellow americans who have faced unimaginable losses as a result of the pandemic. that is our final broadcast for this wednesday of 2020. last wednesday of 2020. brian will be back on monday. on behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of nbc news, good night, and happy new year. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. rachel's got the night off and we've got a lot to get to, including the news that republicans have decided to put one last speed bump in the road to joe biden's inauguration as the next president. this one coming from republican presidential candidate in waiting, senator josh hawley of missouri. we are going to be speaking with senator cory booker about this new gambit in just a few moments. but we want to start tonight with an important story that
starts with just a guy on a bus. in march of 1947, a 47-year-old businessman took this bus route from mexico city to new york. he was actually on his way to maine, but he was feeling sick, so he got off the bus and checked himself into a new york city hotel. he died in a new york city hospital about a week later. it would take a while until doctors knew for sure, but the businessman had died of smallpox. and by the time they figured it out, it was too late. the virus was out. one by one, people sick with high fevers and strange rashes started turning up at new york city hospitals. smallpox is a devastating disease. about 30% of the people who contract smallpox will die. for the ones who survive, they are often left with permanent scars. some go blind, and it spreads like wildfire. it's a highly contagious, highly communicable illness. but by 1947, there was already a vaccine for smallpox. so intellectually the solution
was pretty simple. vaccinate the public and stop the disease from spreading. logistically, that's the public health nightmare scenario because for that strategy to work, you have to get shots into millions of arms and fast. you have to outrun the spread of the virus before the virus outruns you. so when those first cases of smallpox started popping up in new york city, the city's health commissioner knew that he had to convince millions of people not only to get the vaccine but to get it now. at the time, the best way to talk to an entire city all at once was the radio. the new york city health commissioner at the time was a bacteriologist named israel weinstein. "the new york times" wrote a fascinating history of that smallpox outbreak in new york in 1947 and highlighted those public pleas that dr. weinstein gave on the radio. listen. >> we cannot guarantee that there have not been other cases because not every case of
smallpox or for that matter of any disease represents the classic or textbook picture. they vary in degree. now, there very well may have been certain mild cases that have gone about and have not been diagnosed. it's the carrier, the person who carries the organism on his clothes or on his body, or the person who has a mild attack of the disease who is the dangerous one. and remember that the person who has a mild attack can give it to one who is unprotected, and that person get it in all its severity. if you gamble with your health and with your life, you are very foolhardy. there is a definite danger as long as people in the city are unprotected. for your own safety and for that of your families and friends, please don't take a chance.
be vaccinated tonight. >> ladies and gentlemen, you have been listening to a special address by dr. israel weinstein, health commissioner of the city of new york. >> vaccination is a sure preventative against smallpox. >> vaccination is the sure preventative against smallpox. it might sound quaint now, but those radio addresses were a key ingredient in one of the most successful vaccine rollouts in american history, possibly in global history. under dr. weinstein's leadership, the city set up mass vaccination sites for people to line up -- look at these pictures -- and get their free smallpox vaccine. people listened to the good doctor on the radio and lined up in droves outside hospitals, police stations, public clinics to get their vaccine. can't imagine people being that close these days, but they sent vaccine teams to every public school in the city. they even sent doctors into
nightclubs and to the circus to make sure the circus performers got their vaccines too. this is from "the times." quote, the response was so great that the city enlisted thousands of civilian volunteers to help deliver inoculations. armed with vials of vaccine, the volunteers along with professional health care providers administered as many as eight doses per minute. in the first two weeks, 5 million new yorkers were vaccinated against smallpox. 5 million doses in 14 days in 1947. the smallpox vaccine rollout in new york in 1947 is one of the most rapid, efficient, organized vaccination initiatives this country has ever seen. at one point, half a million doses were administered in new york city in a single day. new york's smallpox outbreak could have been one of the worst public health disasters in living memory. instead, it ended ten weeks later with 12 infections, 2 deaths, and more than 6 million
shots in people's arms. today's world, of course, is a lot more complicated than the one of 1947 and rolling out a vaccine to one city is a lot different from rolling it out to the entire world. but when you strip it down, that's the playbook to follow when you can, to mass deliver a vaccine. it's not just about developing the secret sauce inside that vial. it's about building an infrastructure to deliver it quickly into people's arms, train volunteers, build vaccination centers, vaccinate the circus. that's not the playbook the federal government is running to deliver the covid vaccine to the american people in an efficient, orderly way. let's look at florida. this is not a line outside a mall on black friday. this is a vaccine line in lee county, florida. senior citizens camping out overnight at a rec center parking lot to receive the vaccine. the republican governor of florida went against cdc recommendations to give
front line workers the vaccine first, instead moved florida's seniors to the top of the line. but that seems to be where the planning stopped. at some vaccine sites around florida, shots are simply being offered on a first come, first served basis. that's why the most vulnerable floridians are sleeping in a parking lot for their chance to get a dose of a vaccine. in lee county yesterday, the three vaccination sites reached full capacity by 7:00 a.m. the sheriff had to send out a traffic alert because the waiting cars were clogging up the roads. in other parts of the state, vaccines are available by appointment if you can get one. "usa today" reports that people in miami spent hours getting busy signals to make an appointment. here's how it's going in texas. health officials raising alarms today that the state has more vaccine than they can currently get into people's arms, saying that, quote, unnecessary delays are causing a, quote, significant portion of the precious vaccine to sit untouched. one clinic in arizona says they have too many shots because they don't have enough employees willing to take the vaccines that are sitting unused on their shelves.
nbc news tried to track down just how many unused doses might be sitting around throughout the country. of the roughly 12 million doses that have been shipped to health care providers, just over 2 million have been administered. at that rate, it would take ten years to vaccinate enough of the country to reach herd immunity. tomorrow is the last day of the year. just today we set a new record, the most covid-19 deaths in a single day by a lot. and still we are nowhere near where we thought we would be in terms of rolling out this vaccine. the trump administration promised it would vaccinate 20 million people by year's end, by tomorrow. instead we've reached about a tenth of that goal. the disorganized hodgepodge nature of this rollout so far will not make it go faster, especially because the federal government appears to have done none of the advance work necessary to make this go smoothly. this is not a 1947-style rollout. there are no volunteer armies of vaccinators. there are no federal vaccination
centers. there are senior citizens sleeping in parking lots and untouched vaccine sitting on shelves at a critical time in the pandemic. there were concerns that we would not have enough vaccine early on to make a dent in new infections. but we can't even deliver the few doses that we have. some of them we are literally throwing away. today the governor of california said that the new variant of the virus that was first found in the united kingdom has now been found in california too. now, this variant is not believed to be more fatal than the original strain, but it is much more contagious. that means more people could catch covid, more people will need hospitalization, and many more people will die unless, of course, they receive the vaccine in an organized, timely way. colorado was the first part of the country to identify the strain that's circulating through its community. the democratic governor of colorado, jared polis, announced today that coloradans over the age of 70 as well as teachers and grocery workers can expect to receive the vaccine next week. there's no time like the
present. joining me now, jared polis, governor of colorado. governor, good to see you. thank you for your time this evening. let me ask you about this new variant. it was a national guard member who tested positive for the new variant, first one in the country. apparently this person has not traveled, so it's literally impossible that they're the first case of the new variant in the united states. they're just the first case that we've been able to identify. what's your sense? was there something about your testing system that made this the first state to spot the variant? >> well, i'm proud of our colorado scientists and our state lab, and i think i speak on behalf of all the governors as well as every american in expressing gratitude for the role the national guard has played. they've manned testing facilities, helped staff nursing homes. they're doing an amazing job. look, i don't think anybody knows exactly how it got here. i think when we found the first case of the variant yesterday, we knew that it was already here. i think it's probably in every state, even more in states that have more travel to the united kingdom like the east coast. but we were just the first ones to discover it here. we don't think it's wildly
prevalent yet, but we have found it, and we're following the chain of contagion to see where else it might be in our state, and i know other states are as well. >> governor, talk to me about this vaccine distribution situation that we seem to be facing. i've heard every excuse in the book in the last week about why we haven't gotten more shots in arms. somebody saying it's the governors who get it, it's the states that distribute it. others saying there isn't enough demand. what's the situation in colorado as you understand it? are you matching the vaccines that you have to people who need it? >> i'm proud that we're in the top five states in terms of percentage of vaccinations that we've used. we've vaccinated over 1.5% of the entire population of our state. today we opened it up to people 70 and up. once those front line workers that work in health care wards, you know, nurses and doctors and orderlies are taken care of, and they mostly are in our state in most areas, we're moving on to some of the other groups. it's a matter of scheduling some
of the vocational related groups, teachers and others likely in february getting that scheduled with each of those units. but in the meantime, our orders in colorado, use every dose within 72 hours. if we're working with a hospital or doctor, community health clinic that doesn't use it in 72 hours, we'll take it back and give it to somebody who will use it. >> so in a lot of places, unlike florida where they've prioritized the elderly, there just weren't enough doses yet to get to beyond the health care worker population. where are you getting enough medication to start vaccinating the public as early as next week? >> well, i would take it back from anybody that forced seniors to spend nights in parking lots also. i mean the folks like uc health and county health departments that are giving inoculations to seniors, they're scheduling it. you either schedule it online, you know, 15 minutes, 15 minutes. the people sign up, they show up, they get a reminder. it's unfathomable that people would be forced to -- especially our vulnerable seniors would be forced to spend the night outdoors in line. we would not allow any of our distribution partners to engage
in that kind of activity. >> do you have enough vaccine? do you have as much vaccine as you want? >> no, of course not. we've used every dose we have. we're still at only 1.5% of the population here. we can't necessarily count on the number every week. in fact, our pfizer last week was under. a number of states noticed that. we hope that the federal government continues to keep the supply reliable, but really we only know what we have when we get it, and we have a good sense of one week ahead. very little sense of two weeks ahead. no sense of three weeks ahead. >> i was going to ask you because in a few weeks we're going to have a new administration, a new president. joe biden says he wants a million shots a day. he wants 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his administration. how do we get there? what do you need from the federal government to accelerate the rate at which you are inoculating people? >> well, frankly, i'd love to see another vaccine approved. i saw united kingdom approved astrazeneca, but i heard it might not be approved here until
april when we get the first doses. we would love the fda to move that up to march or february. it might not be as effective as the 95%, but even 60%, 70%, 80%, we'll start giving it to young people, 20s and 30s. my goodness, we'd start getting it tomorrow and give the people in their 70s and ultimately those in their 60s the pfizer and the moderna. >> governor jared polis, good to see you. thank you for taking time for us tonight. jared polis is the governor of calif -- of colorado, i'm sorry. joining us now is dr. atul gawande. he's a surgeon at brigham and women's hospital in boston, a professor at the harvard school of public health, and one of president-elect biden's covid advisory board members, so he's the guy we need to talk to. dr. gawande, good to see you. thank you for taking time for us tonight. if you could help me with understanding the exponential nature of the spread of a vaccine. so the idea that this vaccine might be 50% more infectious or more contagious is much, much worse than it being 50% more fatal.
>> you're talking about the variant. yes. >> yes. correct. thank you. >> yes. the most important thing about it being more contagious is that it doesn't necessarily mean it is more likely to cause serious illness or death. and yet because it is more contagious, it will fill our hospitals faster. you'll see more people in the icu, and you'll see more people die. and we've seen that happening in the uk. we're already maxing out hospitals. a quarter of the hospital icus are filled or near full. that is a concerning situation to say the least. >> we were talking to the health director of los angeles county last night. we were discussing a hospital in the southern california area that is essentially rationing care. they have said that if somebody comes in really, really sick and they determine that lifesaving efforts to keep them alive may not work, they will save those
resources for someone who is more likely to live. that's not the kind of thing we're used to hearing publicly spoken in the united states. obviously hospitals have to make choices, but they don't typically have to make choices about who lives and dies. >> these kinds of crisis standards of care, as they're called, are not where we want to be. we need a tremendous amount of public support. mask wearing is still the most important tool we can have, and we still have significant parts of the country, even in every state, where you have people who still insist that this is no more significant than the flu. we're past well over 2,000 deaths a day. that makes it now the number one killer in the country, bigger than heart disease, bigger than cancer. >> you just heard governor polis saying he would like to see this astrazeneca/oxford vaccine that was approved in the united kingdom approved here in the united states earlier than april, which is our earliest
guess. what's that all about? how come some countries approve vaccines that typically are made there faster, and yet we are still months away in the united states? >> well, some of that, for example, with astrazeneca, the concern is their claim about the effectiveness of the vaccine hasn't been released in the form of data that you can really examine. i give credit to the fda for insisting that they have to review the data and look at it extremely closely. they, you know, uncovered things in the last round with the last two vaccines, for example, finding that even one dose showed early signs of effectiveness at levels we hadn't anticipated. i would love to see that the astrazeneca vaccine turns out to have a 90% effectiveness like they have claimed, but that data still has to be brought forward and reviewed. i would agree with the governor. it would be great to get that data early, and then the fda has signaled and shown that they have committed to moving
quickly. >> dr. gawande, good to talk to you. dr. gawande is one of president-elect biden's covid advisory board members, and he is a surgeon and professor at the harvard school of public health, a surgeon at brigham and women's hospital in boston. thank you for your time tonight, sir. coming up next, mitch mcconnell pleaded with his colleagues not to do it, but one republican senator just couldn't help himself. senator cory booker joins us next to talk about what's about to go down in the senate next week.
earlier this month, the day after the electoral college formally voted to make joe biden the next president, senate republican leader mitch mcconnell took to the senate floor and finally, finally acknowledged for the first time that biden was the president-elect. it was a full six weeks after election day, six weeks filled with republicans dodging questions about joe biden's win, twisting themselves into verbal knots and getting very philosophical about words and their meaning. what even is a president-elect anyway? but mitch mcconnell finally came around. better late than never, i guess. and with the electoral college vote done, the only thing left to do was for the house and the senate to formally certify the
results in a joint session on january 6th, next wednesday. a number of house republicans had been making noise about challenging the election results that day in a last-ditch, doomed effort to overturn biden's win either because of voter fraud or venezuelan voting machine gremlins or rudy giuliani or who knows what. a dozen house republicans even met at the white house with president trump to strategize about that challenge. also at that meeting, vice president pence, who will actually preside over the joint session of congress next wednesday certifying the election results. but there was one other thing that that merry band of coup plotters needed -- a united states senator. you see, any house republican or a dozen or 100 can object to certifying any state's slate of electors. but the objection goes nowhere unless at least one senator signs on. and on that day just over two weeks ago, when mcconnell finally uttered the dreaded phrase "president-elect joe biden," he had a phone call with
his fellow senate republicans in which he reportedly warned them not to do this thing. do not sign on to any challenges to biden's victory, mcconnell told them. as politico reported, mcconnell told his caucus that challenging the results would force republicans to take a terrible vote because they would need to vote it down and appear against president donald trump. the number two republican in the senate, john thune, told reporters that any attempt to challenge the election results in the senate would, quote, go down like a shot dog, end quote. but it appears that mcconnell's warnings and thune's metaphor was not enough to keep every member of their caucus in line because today senator josh hawley of missouri announced he will challenge the results of at least one state on january 6th, next wednesday. hawley claims that pennsylvania and other states did not follow their own election laws and that congress should investigate nonexistent voter fraud and for good measure, he says, social media companies interfered in
the election too. now, to be entirely clear, this gambit is almost certainly not going to result in anything more than a delay in certifying the results on january 6th. all josh hawley can do is force a two-hour debate on pennsylvania's electors or multiple two-hour debates on many states' electors. but joe biden is still going to be the next president of the united states. what senator hawley may succeed in doing is opening up a major rift among senate republicans because each senator will have to choose between voting to support trump or voting to support the results of a democratic election. let's just be clear. that's what the vote's for. it's either for democracy or it's against democracy. josh hawley has come out very clearly against democracy today. he's also widely expected to run for president in 2024, and clearly he thinks he knows which way his party is headed. joining us now, senator cory booker, democrat of new jersey, who sits on the judiciary committee with senator hawley. senator booker, you know, there was a time when you and i used
to talk about interesting policy matters. but now every time you're on the show, it's got a "what on earth is this" quality to it. so why don't you tell me. you know josh hawley. you sit on judiciary with him. what on earth is this? >> well, i can't get inside his head, but i do know this. you said it. clearly and unequivocally, the next president of the united states will be joe biden. and according to the 12th amendment and the electoral count act of 1887, there is absolutely no way to prevent that. what unfortunately this does is i think it's another whack at the free and fair elections of the united states, perpetuating lies and deceit and conspiracy theories launched for the first time in my lifetime by the president of the united states, who is not only seeking to undermine a free and fair election, but really it looks like he's seeking to wound our democracy. and if that wound is compounded again and again and again by those who want to play into conspiracy theories, lies, and
deceit, it could actually do a lot of harm to future elections, and the biggest spirit that is necessary for our democracy to function, which is faith and trust in our electoral process. >> and this is the thing. josh hawley may have concerns that he thinks are valid about congress looking into the way elections are run in this country. but that's not what this thing on january 6th is about. the thing on january 6th is taking the electoral college numbers, counting them all up, doing a roll call, and certifying them. that's it. it's not the place for this conversation. >> no. and, look, we've seen the place for the conversation in my opinion. we saw dozens and dozens of giuliani-backed lawsuits that failed time and time both in state court and in federal court and even up at the supreme court. we have seen trump officials from his appointed judges knock this thing down time and time again. we've seen the attorney general barr say that this was a free and fair election. other trump officials in the
cybersecurity realm have said this was a free and fair election, no signs of interference. time and time again, trump official, republican state leaders, governors, secretary of states have all said these are lies by the president, deceit, and misinformation. and so to perpetuate that is something i've never seen before. i think it's damaging to our democracy, and it's only advancing this conspiracy theory that people who are part of trump's -- consider themselves trump loyalists are taking hook, line, and sinker, it seems. many of them. >> it's also going to wreck the republican party if it keeps going this way. but most of your republican colleagues i doubt are interested in this. they do not want to see themselves in a position as mitch mcconnell suggested where they're going to have to vote. that this stuff you're suggesting is bonkers, we're voting to certify the election. >> i know one thing quite competently. i'm not a fortune teller but i know history is going to look back on this moment and see what
we did, how we conducted ourselves. did we act in the best interests of our nation, or did we perpetuate attempts to undo its most sacrosanct ideals like free and fair elections? i think that history is going to look back on this moment and see what each individual senator decides to do. and their reasoning and rationale. i think it will frown on people if they play into the fraud that this president is not only doing since the election -- remember, even before the election, he said, if i lose, i'm going to try to do everything i can to overturn the results. and to play into that right now, i think you're -- the shadow of history will leave you in a very cold place. >> i want to ask you about the judiciary committee. joe biden's team, according to "the huffington post," has asked senate democrats like yourself to send him judicial nominees asap. the last four years have been marked by a record number of judicial appointees. president-elect joe biden, according to the article, wants democratic senators to recommend
nominees to him who are diverse not just in terms of race or gender but professionally, something progressives have been clamoring for for years. in a letter obtained by huffpost, biden's incoming white house counsel tells democratic senators to find public defenders and civil rights attorneys in their states who they think would be a good fit for a federal judgeship. are you familiar with this? >> i am definitely familiar with that spirit in my conversations with transition members. my senior senator, bob menendez, and i have been working really hard on coming up with a very qualified, diverse, long list of judges for the judicial emergency we really have in the state of new jersey. so what donald trump and mitch mcconnell have done to the federal bench -- and i say both of them because even before donald trump came into office, mitch mcconnell seemed to be doing everything he could to slow down the process and even undermine the process of obama appointees. so now we have years now of
donald trump putting on more judges than anybody else in the modern era. many of them were deemed unqualified by the aba. they are young, and many of them represent the farthest right wings of judicial thought. so i think we need to work to balance the court out as the constitution describes, and joe biden should be doing everything he can to get federal judges appointed as quickly as possible. again, this is why georgia is so important, because mitch mcconnell has already shown what he'll do to joe biden because he did it to obama. if he's in charge of the senate, i have no confidence that he's necessarily going to move quickly to get biden judges appointed. >> we're going to be talking about that georgia election, which is next tuesday. senator booker, good to see you as always. thank you for joining us. happy new year, and here's to some good, substantive policy discussions in 2021. >> i look forward to that, sir. thank you so much. all right. up next, there's reasons for democrats to be cautiously optimistic tonight. it has to do with what the senator was just talking about. the all-important vote in
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we are all looking forward to the end of this week when we can officially put the year 2020 in the rear view mirror. but if you live in the state of georgia, 2020 doesn't end for another six days. that is when georgians will go to the polls to decide which party will control the united states senate for at least the next two years. today was the last day of early voting in fulton county, georgia's biggest county, which includes most of the city of atlanta, while other counties nearby like dekalb and cobb county can still vote early tomorrow. already more than 2.5 million georgians across the state have voted. that turnout has given democrats some reason to be cautiously optimistic. according to politico, early voting has lagged in some key republican-controlled areas, worrying some republican operatives. one analysis shows democrats are on pace to turn out about 80% of the voters who came out to vote early for them in november while
only about two-thirds of republicans have come back out to vote early in this election. now, if you're wondering why republicans are not showing up in bigger numbers, it may have something to do with the ongoing effort by president trump and his cronies to cast doubt about the results of the last election in georgia, alleging widespread voter fraud despite overwhelming evidence that no such fraud exists. yesterday georgia's secretary of state's office released results of an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes cast in cobb county, finding absolutely no instances of voter fraud. that result sent donald trump into yet another tantrum against top georgia republican officials. this morning trump ramped up his attacks on georgia's republican governor, calling on him to resign from office. just hours earlier, trump also tweeted a baseless and debunked conspiracy about how georgia's republican secretary of state, brad raffensperger, has a brother who secretly works for the chinese government. like much of what the president says, that claim is entirely untrue.
but even as georgia's top republican officials become pariahs in trumpland for not entertaining the president's baseless claims of fraud, keep in mind they have not given up on the republican party's long-term agenda of using that baseless fraud or those baseless fraud claims to try to limit access to the polls. today the president of georgia's naacp publicly resigned from a bipartisan voting rights task force created by georgia republican secretary of state brad raffensperger, accusing raffensperger of supporting attempts to disenfranchise eligible georgia voters and calling the task force a farce. joining us now, reverend james woodall. he's the state president of georgia's naacp. reverend, good to see you. thank you for being with us tonight. >> thank you, ali, for having me, and good evening. happy early new year to you. >> and to you, sir. thank you. tell us about this because to many americans who had no idea who brad raffensperger was, he almost has seemed like a bit of
a hero for the last several weeks as he has stood up to the attacks of donald trump, who continues to claim that the election on november 6th in georgia was fraudulent. you've got a different view of what brad raffensperger and republicans in the state are up to. >> well, for sure. and, one, let's be very clear. me resigning from the task force is saving black people's lives. our secretary of state here has committed himself to partisan attempts to keep black and brown georgia voters from being able to cast their ballot in a very safe, secure, and accessible way. when you have a secretary of state who is more concerned and more committed to maintaining his political party and the power that he yields or lack thereof within that party, than actually ensuring that every single eligible voter can participate in this year's election and beyond, then i can't participate in that, and i would urge any other person to see it for exactly what it is. and what we're trying to do is save people's lives. this is deeper than partisanship. this is deeper than any
candidate or any election. what we're trying to do is make sure that when a voter casts their ballot, they don't have to fear for their life. we're trying to make sure that when an election worker shows up to work and administer that process, that they don't have to fear for their life. but the secretary of state is making that job much more difficult. in fact, i would even argue that he is responsible for his own threats because he continues to try to play the fence and play his partisan game. >> and we need to remember because, you know, the voting situation in georgia came to public light over the last few years where we have realized those things we thought -- that many people in america thought were from decades past are still alive and well. in resigning from the task force, you wrote in an email to raffensperger, i cannot in good faith continue to work with your office in a nonpartisan fashion if you publicly commit to disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters on a purely partisan basis and continue to use your office as a way to push conspiracy theories that place georgia residents in harm's way.
your latest actions are troubling to say the least and put the work of the task force in jeopardy as the spirit in which we were convened has seemingly disappeared due to political pressure. for folks who don't follow this as closely, what's the issue at the heart of this? >> the issue at the heart of this is the ability of the people of georgia, both democratic, republican, black, white, urban, rural, to be able to show up and cast their ballots in a safe, secure, and accessible manner. what's happening right now is not that. and, in fact, the spirit of that task force, i believe, is needed, that we need to come together regardless of identity or affiliation and work to solve these issues because let's be clear. even though we had record turnout in this year's election, and right now the runoff election has more turnout now than we saw in the runoff in 2008, but we still have major work to do in our election processes here. but instead of working on that, the secretary of state, the republican party here in the state of georgia, they're
working to make it harder in a day and age where we're living in a public health pandemic, they're working to make it harder for georgia voters to be able to participate. that's voter suppression. and so we're concerned that post january 5th and beyond, we're going to see even more and more concerns and more egregious efforts by the republicans here in this state to disenfranchise georgia voters, and we're not going to stand by it because at the end of the day, we're not just fighting for political parties or political candidates. we're fighting for lives. lives are at stake and we're going to continue to do everything in our power to protect in the fight against all of this. >> well, the good news is that the eyes of the entire country are on georgia. the eyes of the entire world really are on georgia in the next few days, and we know much more about voting in your state as a result of the attention that you and others have brought to it. thank you, sir. reverend james woodall is the state president of georgia's naacp. thank you for your time, sir. >> thank you, sir. happy new year. >> and to you. we've got an update to a story that's been a national
we've got an update to a story that has outraged americans for more than six years now. in november, 2014, two cleveland police officers responding to a call that a, quote, guy was pointing a gun at people saw this 12-year-old black boy, tamir rice, playing with a pellet gun. one of the two officers shot tamir rice, a 12-year-old boy. he died the next day. tamir rice's family has been seeking justice ever since. in 2015, one avenue for that justice closed to them when a grand jury in ohio declined to indict the officers for shooting this boy. now another avenue is closed to them. the federal justice department put out a statement that its investigation into that killing, quote, found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against the officers. tamir rice's family did receive money from settling a federal civil rights lawsuit, but they remain disappointed that the officers who killed tamir rice
have not been prosecuted. one of the officers was fired in 2017 though not because of the killing. the other officer is still on the job six years later. meanwhile, nine months after 26-year-old breonna taylor died when three police officers shot into her louisville, kentucky, home, several officers involved in that botched raid are still on the job, but that might change soon. the louisville metro police department aims to fire two more officers involved in the shooting death of breonna taylor. if both officers are fired, they will join brett hankison, who was removed from the force in june and charged in september with wanton endangerment for firing, by the way, into neighboring apartments, not for firing into breonna taylor's home. so that would add up to three officers finally removed from the force. but is that what justice looks like? activists and protesters have marched across the nation this year calling for justice for breonna taylor, for george floyd, for elijah mcclain, for rayshard brooks, for jacob blake, and for so many more black people killed or seriously
injured by american police. every time the protesters have specifically asked for new policing standards, the re-allocation of police department funds, charges for officers who kill innocent civilians, and increased accountability for officers. but as 2020 comes to a close, have they gotten anything that they've asked for? have they gotten justice for the lives lost this year? the officers who killed george floyd are now facing charges, but the police involved in elijah mcclain's death last year remain uncharged. for shooting jacob blake in front of his children and leaving him paralyzed, officers have been placed on administrative leave as they await the results of an investigation, and those results are expected to be announced soon. and in the case of breonna taylor, there are still no charges for her death. but two more officers might lose their jobs nine months after she lost her life. these are the unanswered questions of 2020. after a year of protests and fervent pleas for change, where do we stand now?
will we see the change that protesters have asked for under a biden administration? joining me now, a civil rights activist and co-creator of the black lives matter movement. good to see you again. thank you for being with us. what a year it's been. on some levels it's been a deeply sad year for social justice, and on another it's been a remarkable awakening the likes of which we've not seen since the civil rights movement, but now we move into a new era. what does that look like to you? >> well, i think in this new era what we really need to be paying attention to is not continuing to sweep this epidemic under the rug. what we've seen for not just this past year but at least the last decade is that honestly we're facing a situation where police officers and law enforcement in this country have more rights and more protections than the civilians that they are sworn to protect and serve. and that in and of itself is a tragedy.
but then bigger than that what we're seeing are that there are no consistent accountability mechanisms. and frankly, there isn't the political will to enforce those mechanisms when they do exist. that is why we see such uneven levels from department to department of accountability. and we even see it in what i would say is a severely weakened department of justice especially under the trump administration and certainly under attorney general bill barr or former attorney general bill barr as the case may be. so for us i think moving into 2021 there's a few things that we need to see. number one, we need to see an up rooting of racism in every aspect of our lives. and that includes police departments, and it includes law enforcement. number two, we need to see a re-allocation of resources across the board. what we're seeing is that we are bloating the budgets of these police departments with no accountability and no
transparency and no oversight. and so the results are very clear. but what if we reallocate those resources into the community needs that we have, mental health services, all the things we're calling on police to help do something about but that they're actually not trained to do and they're not the best people to do it. and then thirdly, i think what we really need to see in 2021 is a strengthening of oversight mechanisms, whether it be at the federal level or whether it be in cities and states where most law enforcement policy, right, is actually developed and implemented. >> amazing that you've laid that out as clearly as you have. numbers two and three are political. they can be done. number one, uprooting racism, we've been trying to do that i suspect for a very long time. what does that involve? that's not just having a biden/harris administration. that's a bigger thing. >> it is.
but it's important for the biden and harris administration to actually take this on as a core component of their administration. the problem here is that too often the way we talk about racism is that it's about mean people being mean to people. and that actually is not racism. that's just people being mean. but racism is about rigged rules. it's about keeping people from power, decision making, and dignity. and we see that in systems across the board whether it be law enforcement, whether it be education, whether it be health care, whether it be in our employment and our economy. racism is fundamentally about rigged rules that keep people who have been designed or designated as other from the things that they need to live well. and the biden-harris administration needs to make this a core component of their agenda for their administration. and they, too, need to embrace this notion that racism is not, again, about people being mean to each other.
racism is fundamentally about rules that are rigged against communities that have been left out and left behind for far too long. once we start to address that from that perspective, then we can take on the mandate of changing those rules, getting rid of those rules and replacing them with rules that allow people to access dignity equally. >> what an amazingly clear description of that. i appreciate that. i'm always smarter for talking to you about this. a civil rights activist and co-creator of the black lives matter movement. may you have a strong 2021. we'll see you next year. >> happy new year, ali. thanks for having me. >> my pleasure. we'll be right back. l be right . want to sell the best burger in every zip code?
tomorrow's the last day of 2020, but i want to take you back a long time to 1942 in new york city. fearing wartime air and naval attacks on its historic skyline in december 1942 new york city was under what's called a mandatory dim out, a city essentially in darkness. as a result the decades old tradition of a luminous new year's eve celebration in times square looked very different that year. here's the front page of "the new york times" on january 1st, 1943. "400,000 revellers fill times square on dim new year's." here's how the "times" covered it. quote, new year's eve in times square had a weird quality last night.
a crowd of 400,000 moved zombie-like through the dimness. the restless thousands lacked zest. war somehow laid its hand on the celebration intended to mute it. it was the first time since 1908 that no ball glowed to signal the death of the old year and the birth of the new. new year's eve tomorrow will no doubt look different than what we're used to. there will be no crowds in times square at all. the normal new year's celebration is canceled as the country reels from over 340,000 americans killed by this terrible virus. 2021 is going to start on a somber note. but it's worth remembering that we as a country have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges before. in december of '42 our country in the midst of a painful war that would claim the lives of
100,000 americans, we began to adapt. a new year is after all a reason to be hopeful. we've made it through awful times in our nation's history before and we will do so again. but despite and because of how much it is felt this year, we are in fact all in this together. and to our absolutely incredible team of journalists who are so deeply committed to uncovering the truth for you night after night on "the rachel maddow show." we'll do this again next year. until then i wish you a safe and happy new year's holiday. it is time now for the "last word" with my friend lawrence o'donnell, who has a very, very special guest for us tonight. lawrence? >> thank you, ali. we have dr. anthony fauci tonight. this is his first appearance on this program. this is something i've been looking forward to all year. obviously we have so many questions for him. he predicted this would be a dark winter for us with the pandemic, and that's where we are tonight. we're also going to have jon ossoff join us later in the hour